Wednesday Jul 29 2009
Throwing rocks is longstanding family tradition
By: Marci Seither
For as long as I can remember our family has gone camping. In fact, we have been going to the same spot for the last 40 years. My grandpa loved fishing and telling fish tales. He loved cooking things over an open fire and he loved to throw rocks. For years my grandfather and his siblings searched for the perfect camping spot, eventually selecting one at Ice House Reservoir, off Highway 50. There was only one problem with the site. It was a great site for water-skiing and fishing, but there wasn’t much of a beach. So, Grandpa Miller decided to make a beach. One spot close to where they would anchor the boats was covered in rocks, but Grandpa discovered there was plenty of sand underneath them. He picked up a few rocks and threw them to the side. Soon there was a spot big enough for a few picnic blankets. The following year everyone moved more rocks until a canopy could be erected. Today there is more than 30 yards of sandy beach, which is filled each July by my relatives who come together for a mini-vacation. Even though my grandparents have passed away, I’m reminded of them as I sit on “our” beach. Sometimes we play cards, or horseshoes, but we always throw rocks. Camping is our time to reconnect. We talk about whose football team is going to be the next champion, the wedding plans of one of our cousins or how many more chemo treatments a loved one must endure. Those of us with children tell them about the early days — when being pulled around the lake in an inner tube was really a challenge. Not because of the speed of the faster boats, but because the long stem always had to be facing down so you didn’t poke your eye out. Or how we cooled off the hot black rubber that reached 475 degrees if it sat in the sun for any length of time. We tell them we learned to water ski in this reservoir. The younger crowd now prefers wake boards. What’s important is that we are spending time together as a family. I think that is what my grandpa had hoped would happen when he picked up those first few rocks. He wanted to create a place for his family to connect. Not everyone likes the feel of grit between their toes as they climb into a sleeping bag. Nor is camping something everyone enjoys. And yet, everyone needs to feel connected and to have a special time and place to make memories to pass on to the next generation. If you find that you’re having a hard time finding your place in this fast-paced society, maybe it’s time to throw a few rocks of your own.